Teaching power is a brand-new metric that gauges the influence of business schools on others through the extent to which work done by professors and their business schools appears in course descriptions and reading lists of academic programmes, rather than the traditional measurement of researchers being cited in academic papers. It illuminates which business schools are the most influential in a highly contested global education space.
Henley Africa dean and director Jon Foster-Pedley describes the new metric as a potential game changer for academia: “As Open Syllabus says: this survey can help revalue teaching by refocusing on the importance of good teaching by gauging its impact. Great teaching really matters in business schools.
“It’s a well-known fact in academia that some of our best researchers aren’t necessarily our best teachers, which is particularly important when it comes to business schools where you need people who can teach at graduate and executive level as well as engage with people. A good business school is one that impacts the real world of business, not just academics, so the power of teaching is critical.”
While Harvard Business School dominates the rankings as the most influential business school worldwide, Foster-Pedley is particularly impressed by the breadth of global impact of six Henley luminaries: professors R Meredith Belbin, Mike Pedler, Chris Brooks, Chris Brewster, Alan Rugman and Adrian Palmer.
“These are iconic business academics; Belbin is the father of the team role theory; Pedler is a pioneer of action learning; Chris Brooks is a professor of finance; Chris Brewster a professor of international human resource management; Alan Rugman is a legendary international business academic; and Adrian Palmer is a leading scholar of marketing.”
Their presence in the rankings, says Foster-Pedley, is proof both of the intrinsic strength of the Henley programmes and their increasing relevance in the modern world, something that has been borne out for a fourth successive year by Henley Africa being adjudged the best MBA business school by corporate South Africa, by winning another PMR diamond award.
“It’s an amazing accolade because the awards are based on the feedback of some of our key constituents; the business managers and the HR practitioners; the very people who will either approach us to create executive education programmes to upskill their staff or recommend their own executives to study with us when the time comes in their careers to do an executive MBA.”
It’s particularly pleasing for Henley Africa to have maintained this during the greatest disruption of recent times, economically and socially, caused by Covid-19 across the world, he says.
“People often ask in this time of incredible volatility, uncertainty, chaos and ambiguity, what the point of executive education and especially the executive MBA actually is,” he says. “The truth is there’s never been a better time to study. The MBA is not so much a master of business administration as it is a master’s in business acumen.”
An MBA, he says, teaches its students to critically look for patterns, to zoom out and see the bigger picture and then zoom in and take the right corrective action.
“It will bring you face-to-face with the problems you are facing or will face on the shop floor, the boardroom – or your dining room at home – and mentor you through them using some of the best experts in the world using the latest technologies. A good MBA should balance you – at the office, at home and in your reflections – and challenge you as much as it allows you to challenge your teachers.
“Perhaps the most vital role of the MBA,” says Foster-Pedley, “is that it is the best toolkit to navigate our current crises successfully and build back better. Business drives the economy. We need great business leaders to build the businesses that will build Africa – and reduce inequality by creating prosperity for all.”
The significance of the inaugural teaching power rankings, he says, is that it holds business schools to account, shows them how well they are doing and helps students best prepare for their studies.
“The most important aspect of all though is that it puts the focus back on the teachers and ranks them on their ability to teach, not just to research, honouring them accordingly. That’s something we should look at extending beyond business schools to universities and especially to our basic education system too.”
- Henley Business School Africa is a leading global business school with campuses in Europe, Asia and Africa. It holds elite triple international accreditation; has the number one business school alumni network in the world for potential to network (Economist 2017); and is the number one African-accredited and -campused business school in the world for executive education (FT 2018, 2020), as well as the number one MBA business school in South Africa as rated by corporate SA (PMR.Africa 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021).